About Avi Schaefer

Avi Schaefer, z''l, was born June 11, 1988 to Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer and artist Laurie Gross. Avi was raised in a loving Jewish home in Santa Barbara, California, with his brothers Noah, Yoav, and Elisha.  At age 18, Avi and his identical twin Yoav volunteered to serve as combat soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.  Avi served in the army for three years, first as a soldier in a special forces unit and later going on to train some of Israel's most elite units as a counter-terrorism instructor.  Upon completion of his army service, Avi returned to the United States to begin his studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

In his few months at Brown Avi quickly distinguished himself as an accomplished student and a trusted voice for Israel and for peace.  Avi gracefully balanced his two passions, championing the Jewish state while simultaneously establishing deep lines of communication with students who held differing perspectives.  His life and work were tragically cut short on February 12, 2010, when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while walking near campus.  In just 21 years, Avi became a living testament to the idea that one committed individual can truly make a difference.  His example leaves an indelible mark on this world in the lives of the people who knew him, and the thousands more inspired by his legacy of activism and compassion.  It is now the task of his family and friends to carry on the work he began.

Remembering Avi »

Latest News From The Fund

  • My Shabbat Dinner with Muslims

    My grandmother tells this story about how a relative of hers who lived in Israel asked her, quite intensely, whether she was an American or a Jew. She didn’t know what to say; why couldn’t she be both? (by Audra Gamble)

  • A Trip That United

    Hillel at Binghamton and Muslim Student Association collaborated on the “Visit a Mosque/Visit a Temple” event on March 9, sponsored by the Avi Schaefer Fund. Twelve Hillel students and 12 students from Muslim Student Association spent the afternoon together, visiting Masjid Al-Nur in Johnson City and meeting with Imam Anas Shaikh, then visiting Beth David Synagogue in Binghamton and meeting with Rabbi Zev Silber. Two students, Munira Pulodi, of Muslim Student Association, and Andrew Davidov, of Hillel, shared their reflections on the event. (by David Berman)

  • Guest Column: Interfaith Trip Opens Doors

    Despite the extensive diversity and countless opportunities to meet new students on campus, most students do not leave the safety of their community bubble. However this year, Hillel at Binghamton and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) have been working together to break down these barriers in order to open up opportunities for interfaith dialogue. On Sunday, March 9, Hillel and the MSA took a group of Jewish and Muslim students to go and visit a local mosque, Masjid Al-Nur (Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier) and Beth David Synagogue. Muslim and Jewish students were paired up with each other to create a friendly and open environment for everyone to talk and get to know one another. This trip was a follow-up event to Hillel’s Avi Schaefer Shabbat in collaboration with the MSA, where Jewish and Muslim students shared a Shabbat dinner together while discussing cultural and religious similarities and backgrounds.